Recruiting needs some changes

sports@macon.comFebruary 1, 2012 

Wednesday is a national holiday for college football fans. As silly as it might be, many of us will sit around and wait for 18-year-olds to fax in football national letters-of-intent. Then we’ll get our depth charts out and see where they might fit in for the upcoming season.

It’s the hot stove league of college football, and since the sport is a religion in these parts, recruiting is almost as important as the games in the fall.

Following recruiting used to be simple. When the magazines came out after the start of the year, you could go and grab a couple to learn the players’ names. The newspapers usually had their lists of Top 50 or Top 100 or something. And you could pretty much read the paper every day to see who had committed.

Now, in this Internet and Twitter age we live in, we know more than we probably should know. We can get constant updates from reporters who cover the madness. We can even find the high school kids on Twitter and know what they think of their visits and when they make their commitments.

Yes, it’s almost a little creepy now. And the players seem to love having the fans of their potential teams following every word they write. You know some of them are just having fun with these people, pulling their chain so to speak. They are 18-year-old kids, so you know they get a kick out of playing with people who are so intrigued by their future they have every tweeted word sent to their cell phone.

The truth is this chaos called recruiting could be controlled a bit more. But you wonder, with ESPN doing all-day coverage and the money made by recruiting sites every year, if the holiday has become too big to contain.

It’s hard to understand how college coaches, with all their coaching responsibilities, spend the amount of time they have to on recruiting. That’s why some coaches go to the NFL. They get tired of having to worry about 100 kids on a campus and then keeping up with some sophomore they need to offer quickly or lose the chance to recruit for the next three years.

Coaches are the ones who should push for change, specifically an early signing day for college football. We have one for college basketball, but football keeps everything for one big day. But how much easier would it be for coaches if they could get some of their prospects signed early and out of the way?

Let’s say there was an early signing day right before the season, so that kids who have committed could go ahead and sign. Then those coaches wouldn’t have to keep a daily track of them as they must do if they are simply committed.

Then the coaches could spend more time on truly evaluating the talent that is left on their board, instead of rushing to judgments based on the fact a kid is being looked at by other schools in their conference.

The lack of quality time a coach can spend with the recruits is often the reason some of these schools pick the wrong prospects. In baseball, by contrast, scouts are able to really get to know a high school or college prospect. There is no time limit, so they can pretty much have an idea if a kid has the makeup they want in their organization.

College coaches don’t have that luxury. In this cut-throat business, if a kid has talent, he could have a criminal record a mile long and would still get looked at. What about the kids who might get homesick and run home? If a coach had more time to know the kid, that could be avoided.

It has gotten so out of control that it’s hard to imagine there will be any changes. That, however, is for others to figure out. I’m going to be busy Wednesday hitting the refresh button on my computer all day wondering who has signed on the dotted line.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com

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